Tag Archives: Mao Gu’i Chen

Tongli — From Canals to the Garden of Seclusion and Meditation


 

Canals

Canals

As you can see from the photo above it was indeed a cold day in Tongli.  We were all universally bundled, and many in our group wore headgear for warmth.

Canals

Canals

Of course the cold did little to dampen our awe.

Tongli Canal

Tongli Canal

As our gondola rides finished up I managed to take one last fun shot from the canals of Tongli before we headed to our next Tongli destination:

Gondolas

Gondolas

We regrouped ashore and our magnificent China Spree guide, Mao “Jim” Chen herded us to the Garden of Seclusion and Meditation (also known as the Retreat and Reflection Garden).

Garden of Seclusion and Mediation

Garden of Seclusion and Mediation

This garden is designated as yet another World Heritage Site by UNESCO, one of a total of nine classical gardens so designated in the Suzhou area.  You’ll recall that we visited the Master of the Nets Garden in Suzhou on this day as well.

Garden of Seclusion and Meditation

Garden of Seclusion and Meditation

But unlike other gardens we’d seen on this trip, the Garden of Seclusion and Meditation is a relative newcomer dating back to only 1885.  The Master of the Nets Garden by comparison traces its beginnings nearly 900 years — to 1140.

Garden of Seclusion and Meditation

Garden of Seclusion and Meditation

The central pond of the garden is home to another Chinese development — ornamental koi, which were created through selective breeding of Prussian carp some 1,000 years ago.  You can see these fish to the left side of the pond in this photograph:

Garden of Seclusion and Meditation

Garden of Seclusion and Meditation

And here is a closeup of the school:

Fish in the Garden of Seclusion and Meditation

Fish in the Garden of Seclusion and Meditation

After the canals and the Garden of Seclusion and Meditation you’re probably thinking, what could possibly be next?  That would be the town of Tongli itself, particularly the central business district.  We’ll take a look at this vibrant area in Wednesday’s blog, but until then here’s a closeup of a map of Tongli:

Closeup Map of Central Tongli

Closeup Map of Central Tongli

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Walking the Streets of Tongli


Lantern Festival Decoration

Lantern Festival Decoration

Ursula and I were very fortunate to have found ourselves in the Shanghai area during this particular time of year.  The reason is because of how the Chinese Lunar New Year works.  For 2014 The Year of the Horse began on January 31.  That means that the Lantern Festival would arrive just fifteen days later.  Thus we found ourselves in Tongli a mere one day before the Lantern Festival, and the streets and canals were awash in brightly colored lanterns and other decorations.

Lantern Festival Decoration

Lantern Festival Decoration

I’ll have more on the Lantern Festival in a upcoming series of blogs set during the festival in Shanghai.  Until then we’ll concentrate today on the streets of Tongli.

Tongli Gate

Tongli Gate

That’s not to say that the streets of Tongli would otherwise be devoid of color and character.  Far from it.  Take a look at these storefronts:

Tongli Color

Tongli Color

Sight is not the only sense to meet with warm greeting in Tongli.  Your nose will also find equally pleasing aromas wafting from the many food shops awaiting take-home customers.

Tongli Street Food

Tongli Street Food

Today’s photo gallery will treat you to more of the color, people, and other sights that make Tongli a must-see destination if you should find yourself in the Shanghai area:

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The Gondoliers of Tongli


Gondoliering in Tongli

Gondoliering in Tongli

Our China Spree tour guide, the intrepid and courageous Mao “Jim” Chen, led us along the banks of the canals for our appointment with our gondoliers.  Along the way we noted the lanterns that ran along the banks in preparation of the upcoming Lantern Festival, which I will treat you to in a future blog.

Canals of Tongli

Canals of Tongli

Color ran riot along the entire way.  Buildings were festooned with lanterns and banners of bright red and intense yellow.

Canals of Tongli

Canals of Tongli

Alas, the sun did not grace our visit this day.  But that’s what white balance control is all about, isn’t it?

Canals of Tongli

Canals of Tongli

After a relatively short hike we could see our awaiting gondolas in the distance.

Gondolas Await

Gondolas Await

As we approached our gondolas I was taken by the magnificent and beautiful wood construction.

Tongli Gondolas

Tongli Gondolas

Take a look at this closeup shot to see what I mean:

Gondola Closeup

Gondola Closeup

Our group was large and much more than could be accommodated by just one or two gondolas.  So, we split up for individual assignments.

Tongli Gondolas

Tongli Gondolas

We broke into smallish, individual parties and carefully climbed aboard these skittish craft.

Gondoliering Along the Canals

Gondoliering Along the Canals

Our own gondolier is shown below hard at work:

Gondolier Hard at Work

Gondolier Hard at Work

Fun Photo Friday both this week and next will display some of my favorite shots of Tongli, and next Monday and Wednesday we’ll continue our tour.  Until then here’s a closeup of our gondolier:

Gondolier Portrait

Gondolier Portrait

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